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Trade groups praise resolution from U.S. senators Lee, Sinema

Joni Hanebutt / Vitamin supplement aisle Walmart

The major dietary supplement industry trade organizations have cheered a resolution from two U.S. senators recognizing the importance of the industry.

Last week, Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee and Arizona Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema introduced the resolution, which designates Oct. 23 through Oct. 29 as “Natural Products Industry Week.”

Vast majority of Americans engage with supplements

Eighty percent of Americans reported using dietary supplements in 2021, when usage was surging during the pandemic, the resolution said.

The dietary supplement industry has created more than 754,000 domestic jobs and generated $121.6 billion in total U.S. economic output, including $38.4 billion in domestic wages, according to the resolution, which culled data from Nutrition Business Journal and other sources.

Utah is a hotbed of dietary supplement activity, much of which is channeled through multilevel marketing companies. This was the foundation of the strong support the industry enjoyed from the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, Republican from Utah who represented the state for more than four decades.

Hatch in 1994 helped craft the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, or DSHEA, the industry’s founding legislation in concert with former Sen. Tom Harkin, Democrat from Iowa.

Industry expresses gratitude

Natural products industry stakeholders lavished praise on the resolution.

Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), saw it as the start of more good things to come.

“We look forward to working with Senators Lee and Sinema and other members of Congress to pursue bipartisan initiatives that raise the visibility of our industry,” he said.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) President and CEO Scott Melville said the resolution recognizes the increasingly central part supplements play in end users’ health care choices.

They have “become a mainstream part of self-care and consumers are turning to these products more than ever,” he said.

“We would like to thank Senators Mike Lee and Kyrsten Sinema for highlighting CRN’s Health Care Cost Savings Study data and for supporting our manufacturer and ingredient supplier members in their mission to promote and support healthy lifestyles for consumers,” said Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).

Loren Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA), noted the resolution is timed to recognize an important date in the industry’s history.

“It is entirely fitting that Congress recognize the anniversary of enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which has done so much in the past 28 years to help consumers have access to the safe dietary supplements they want,” Israelsen said.

Rounding out the five most influential stakeholder groups in the industry, Natural Products Association (NPA) President and CEO Daniel Fabricant said, “We thank Senators Lee and Sinema for recognizing our industry’s critical role in empowering consumers to make health care choices.”

Lee’s office also sent a statement that included kudos from the American Kratom Association, Ortho Molecular Products, Alliance for Natural Health USA and Utah Direct Selling Association.

Difficulty of finding durable, baggage-free support

While stakeholders were quick to step forward with praise for the resolution, the recent political history of the two senators involved points to the difficulty the industry faces in finding durable representation on Capitol Hill.

Gone are the days when the dietary supplement sector could rely on the support of august elder statesmen like Hatch or Harkin, who were noted cross-aisle consensus builders during their long tenures.

Now, of course, the nation is much more deeply divided politically, and it’s difficult to find any U.S. senator or representative who is not seen as controversial by some stakeholder groups.

In the case of Sinema, Democratic party operatives were taken aback by her positions and some of her votes, and they were especially incensed by her recent decision to drop her party membership in favor of her status as an independent.

Some political observers have speculated she made the move because she would have had difficulty winning a Democratic primary in 2024, which is when she is up for reelection. Sinema said the change reflects where she sits on the political spectrum.

Lee’s recent baggage includes his support for former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the recent report on the House investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol made it clear that Sen. Lee persisted in helping Trump try to overturn the election until about a week before the riot, in which four protesters and one Capitol Police officer died.

He did eventually vote to certify the election results.

During a debate with Evan McMullin, who challenged for Lee’s seat running as an independent in the 2022 election (and who made a surprisingly strong showing), Lee denied he “supported or ever did support a fake electors plot.”

Lee did not respond to queries from The Tribune about whether he disagreed with the House committee’s report.

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